4 Essentials to Public Speaking for Acquiring Customers

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This article is taken from the Build Your Queue podcast below, Season 2 Episode 22 with Max Farrell, co-founder and CEO of Workhound.

Getting in front of prospective customers is always valuable, so how can you use public speaking as a strategic customer acquisition channel?

Before you can host and market an effective speaking event, you’ll need to ask yourself:

  • How do you gain the confidence and skills to speak publicly?
  • How do you successfully appeal to your audience?
  • What positive ROIs can you generate from a speaking event?
  • How do you put together a solid digital presentation?

We’ll help you answer these questions so you can yield positive results from speaking events that turn into closed deals.

1. How do you gain the confidence and skills to speak publicly?

Public speaking can be uncomfortable, but any entrepreneur worth their salt should be able to effectively communicate what their business does and why it’s valuable to a group of strangers. Although, you're better off speaking as an expert on a topic, highlighting its importance, and then sharing how your business solves the problems around it.

It’s an acquired skill that’s crucial to help your business grow.

You don’t have to be a natural born extrovert to be a successful public speaker, you just have to want to show that you’re an expert on topics related to your business. Even if you're uncomfortable speaking publicly, think of it as just a set time to talk about something you really care about.

That's more important than mentioning mistakes you might make, or how to promote your business (at least in the beginning).

Still feeling nervous?

Here are some basic principles to help you engage any audience:

  • Offer the audience actual knowledge, instead of just selling something or talking about yourself
  • Practice or structure what you’re going to say (no matter how experienced you are, completely winging it is never a good idea)
  • Dress, speak, and act in a way that is comfortable and natural for you (otherwise you won’t appear authentic)
  • Frame what you’re saying around a story, because people naturally latch on to them
  • Read the energy of the room and reflect it (professional vs. casual)

Remember, your audience doesn’t care about you being perfect. They care about learning something new.

2. How do you successfully appeal to your audience?

Whether it’s a virtual or in-person speaking gig, how do you ensure people get the most value out of the event?

If your target customers are going to attend, you ought to have a good feel for what they care about, what problems they're experiencing, and tangible examples to help. But be sure to consider the backdrop of the speaking event as well.

For example, if you’re speaking on a panel at an HVAC convention, it’s only natural that your topic should relate back to HVAC products or contractors in some way.

You’ll also want to research the event’s typical demographic, including:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Education
  • Role or position
  • Culture

Find common ground with that demographic, and note if they’re experiencing any major events outside of what you’re there to talk about.

For instance, if you’re invited to speak at a conference in Florida, you may not want to act overly chipper in a room full of solemn people recovering from a recent hurricane. Or make insensitive comments like, "Here’s how to make sure your business can weather the storm..."

Your topic should ultimately match the time slot you were given by the event, be timely to the demographic you’re speaking to, plus align with your listeners’ goals.

You’re asking your audience to commit to anywhere between twenty to forty-five minutes to listen to you, and your goal is to make it worth their while.

PC: University of Guelph

3. What positive ROIs can you generate from a speaking event?

How do you take an educational presentation and use it to create new customers?

First thing’s first, make sure the presentation you're giving is actually educational. No one wants to be sold to, but everyone wants to learn something. It’s the same mindset you should have when creating any content—your goal is to establish yourself as an authority who customers are naturally drawn to.

Other benchmarks for returns at a speaking event (other than converting customers) include:

  • Getting recognition from a certain association at the event
  • Proving you can entertain on a bigger stage
  • Networking
  • Establishing general awareness about your business

The point of speaking at an event is to grow your business and further your mission, so if you aren't able to do that, you need to reassess your strategy.

If you only have the bandwidth to attend a certain amount of speaking events, look for ones that offer plenty of opportunities for networking before and after. Check if there are other big names in your industry attending the events you’re looking at, and prioritize going to the ones with the most. Or you can go virtual and invite whoever you want.

4. How do you put together a solid digital presentation?

You no longer need to wait to be invited to a conference to hold a speaking event. All it takes is a webinar and a dozen interested guests. Panelists can show up from wherever they are, and it saves everyone a huge amount of travel expenses!

So what tools do you need to give your digital audience the best experience?


You’ll want to use social media to promote your event, and Canva can help you make professional looking visuals to catch people’s attention so they click on your zoom registration link.

In addition to social media, you also need to use your email list to channel interest and retarget guests. Zoom registration links will not only help you track who is coming, but to also get their contact information so you can continue to email them event specific updates and ads.

Having a zoom registration link also gives people who are already interested in attending an easy way to share the presentation with their peers.

Digital Offers

Once you’ve gathered an audience for your presentation, you need to be prepared to follow up with a call to action or digital offer during the event.

This could be exchanging their contact information for things like:

  • Case studies
  • Copy of slide decks
  • Proof of concept
  • Data

After you have their contact information, you can continue sending them content that establishes you as an authority until they eventually convert into a customer.

We personally like to encourage our audience to text us keywords during our presentations, so they get both proof of concept and our contact information for follow ups.

Be the go-to person for your topic.

Now is the perfect time to be an expert in your specific niche. Pull data that only you have from running your business, and share it with those who could benefit the most from it (AKA your target customers).

What can you give to them that no one else can? Your goal is to figure out how to share that in a way that is both concise and easily repeatable.

Related: [Podcast] 3 Steps to Tell Your Compelling Company Story